Craig looks to return to office as Harford executive

Several key races decided in low-turnout Republican primary

September 14, 2010|By Mary Gail Hare, The Baltimore Sun

Harford County voters appeared to return David R. Craig to the county executive's office after participating in what could be the lowest-turnout primary in decades.

In early unofficial results, Craig appeared to win a second term as county executive after beating back a challenge from former County Council President Robert S. Wagner in the Republican primary.

Republican Council President Billy Boniface ran unopposed for re-election, as did longtime Republican Councilman Richard Slutzky.

Councilman James V. McMahan won the Republican primary and will face Democrat Jack T. Feldman in November. Councilman Chad Shrodes, a Republican, appeared to be set for a second term, with no Democratic opponent in November. Councilman Joe Woods, appointed to the seat last year, also led in the Republican primary, his first election, and will be unopposed in the general election.

In the Democratic primary, Councilman Dion Guthrie emerged as the winner in the first district and will likely face Republican Yvonne Baldwin in November. Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti, unopposed in the primary, will run against Sheryl Davis Kohl in the general election.

Incumbent Sheriff Jesse Bane, a Democrat, had no opponent in the primary. His likely Republican opponent was uncertain, as Jeffrey R. Gahler and Steven E. Bodway were locked in a tight contest.

"Turnout is surprisingly low," said county elections director James Massey earlier Tuesday. "Even if there is a surge at the end, I am worried that we might not make 20 percent."

Shortly before the close of the 74 polling places, the numbers "crawled up a bit" to 20 percent of the registered Republicans and 15 percent of Democrats, Massey said.

"This is disappointing," he said. "We had lots of ambitious candidates, but that did not transfer to voter interest."

Republicans control most seats in the county and, for the first time in memory, outnumber Democrats by about 350 on the registration rolls. Democrats did not field candidates for county executive and three council seats, nor did the party attract candidates for County Council president and several state legislative positions.

The county is also starting a gradual transition from an appointed school board to an elected one. The nonpartisan races will pare the list of 14 candidates to six, two each in three councilmatic districts, who will run in November. Two of those races were too close to call, but Bob Frisch held a commanding lead in the District A race.

Harford voters did cast 3,719 early ballots, posting one of the highest percentages in the state, Massey said.

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